Horned violet – planting, care and tips

Horned violet (Viola cornuta)
Horned violet (Viola cornuta)

The hardy horned violet provide colorful flowers in the bed, as well as on the terrace and balcony in spring and autumn.

Profile of horned violet:

Scientific name: Viola cornuta

Plant family: violet family (Violaceae)

Other names: horned pansy

Sowing time: best from September to October

Planting time: March to October

Flowering period: March to October

Location: sunny to partially shaded

Soil quality: sandy to loamy, moderately nutritious, humus rich

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, bouquets, grave planting, group planting, planters, rose companions, cottage garden, flower garden, courtyard, rose garden, potted garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 7 (-15 °C / +5 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of horned violet

Plant order, origin and occurrence of horned violet

Horned violets (Viola cornuta) belong to the genus of violets (Viola) from the violet family (Violaceae). The genus includes around five hundred species worldwide. They are smaller than pansies (Viola wittrockiana) and larger than the wild field pansies (Viola tricolor). They are also often referred to as mini pansies. In the past centuries, numerous horned violet hybrids in every imaginable flower color were created by cultivation and crossing with pansies. In addition to the wild horned violet (Viola cornuta), the biennial garden pansy (Viola wittrockiana) is also originated by the various cultivations.

Characteristics of horned violet


Horned violets are biennial to short-lived herbaceous plants. The greater the genetic content of the wild horned violet, the more durable they are. If the pansy genes predominate, the flowers are larger, but the plants are shorter-lived and less hardy. New flowers appear on the branched stems almost throughout the season. The plants grow bushy, do not form runners and reach heights of 15 to 20 centimeters (6 and 8 in).


The green leaves of the horned violets are egg-shaped and about 3 centimeters (1.2 in) long. The edge is notched and fine hairs sit on the underside.


Horned violets tend to have small flowers around 3 centimeters (1.2 in) in diameter with a short spur at the end. The horned violets owe their name to this “horn”. Many varieties smell. Horned violets bloom for most of the year, with the main bloom beginning in March and a second blooming in autumn. The flowers show wonderful color gradients and different drawings in many varieties.


Small capsule fruits develop from the pollinated flowers over the entire flowering period. When ripe, they pop open on their own and scatter small round seeds. In the bed, horned violets surprise every year in a different place thanks to this self-sowing. If you want to stop this urge to spread, you should remove all withered inflorescences in good time.

Horned violet – cultivation and care


Horned violets thrive in both sunny and partially shaded places.


The small plants prefer a moist and light location and a loosely humus-rich soil without waterlogging. Normal, well-drained garden soil or humus-rich balcony potting soil is suitable for horned violets. The soil should be well supplied with horn meal and compost.

Sowing and Propagation

A pre-cultivation in the house can take place in seed trays from January. Horn violets can also be sown directly into the bed all year round until the end of September. In favorable locations, the summer bloomers tend to grow wild, as they continuously sow themselves. Many species cross themselves by this, so that new color variations can always be found in the garden. Anyone who collects seeds for the next year by themselves must ensure that they are sufficiently stratified. It is therefore best to sow the ripe seeds in the late summer for the coming year in open seed trays with potting compost outdoors. The trays are placed in a shady, sheltered place and kept evenly moist. As soon as the first leaves of the seedlings can be seen in spring, they can be pricked out into individual small pots.



The young horned violets are planted from March to October at a distance of about 10 centimeters. In the bed, they are placed in larger groups that should completely cover the ground when fully grown. By self-sowing, the young plants can also be planted throughout the year without any problems, provided the soil is frost-free.


Horned violets like it moist. Waterlogging, on the other hand, is not tolerated at all. In the case of potted plants, a too dense root ball can mean that the plant does not get enough space to breathe. Plants have a lot to do during flowering and therefore use more water. During the winter months, watering is stopped. Only roofed plants are lightly watered even in winter.


Horned violets have only moderate nutritional requirements. If fertilized too much, they tend to grow tall and become spindle-shaped. For a lush spring bloom, fertilize once in March. In order to keep a green thumb, organic fertilizers such as compost or horn shavings are best suited. They are more environmentally friendly and save more resources than mineral fertilizers. The slower release of nutrients leads to better dosability, so that the nutrients can be ideally made available to your plants.

For young plants that were planted in spring or summer, they should also be fertilized with fertilizer in the irrigation water. Formthis you could place some compost in a bucket and pour water over it, let it stand for 3-4 days and use this water as liquid fertilizer. With older plants, a second fertilization after flowering is sufficient to support the second flowering in autumn. There is no fertilization in the winter months.

Diseases and pests

Horned violets hardly have to deal with diseases, only powdery mildew occurs occasionally. Like most violets, however, they are high on the menu for snails and gall mites.


Most hybrids are hardy down to -15 °C / +5 °F and often only stop blooming when there is frost. Horn violets therefore usually take a break from blooming between Christmas and mid-February. They should then be covered with fir twigs or fleece to protect them from freezing and drying out from the winter sun. In covered locations, you need to water the plants regularly even in winter.

Use in the garden

Horned violets look very beautiful extensive over an entire area and are also perfect stopgap. The long flowering time and their charming charisma make horned violets so valuable for long-lasting arrangements. The little heralds of spring come into their own when presented in a natural way, namely in simple clay pots, tubs and bowls made of zinc or in wicker baskets. Since horned violets thrive well in partially shaded locations, they like to grow in larger containers under higher plants. Horned violets are particularly suitable for underplanting of potted trees and standard (fruit) trees. The carpet of flowers prevents the earth’s surface from becoming encrusted, but this also significantly increases the water requirement. Water every day on warm, dry days, but avoid waterlogging at all costs.

As underplanting of fruit trees, horned violets attract bees to pollinate the fruit blossoms. In the cottage garden, horned violet blossoms enchant you with their cheerful yellow eyes between kitchen herbs. Horned violets create very beautiful accents planted in groups, but also in combination with the single-colored flowers of primroses in spring, asters or zinnias in summer and chrysanthemums in autumn. As underplanting of deciduous trees such as juneberry, deutzia, tamarisk or smoke tree, they have a very freshening effect, especially in the cold season. Due to the multicolored color palette, a harmonious color composition with horned violets is not that easy,- especially if you have collected the seeds yourself. It therefore makes more sense to buy single-variety seeds of two to three varieties with uniform flower colors.


Whether in pastel, strong yellow or purple tones, the colors leave nothing to be desired. In addition, the drawings and color gradients are so diverse that it is difficult to choose. Typical of horned violets: The colors can also vary within a variety. Especially with plants propagated by seeds, pretty color interplay often emerges. Most varieties are fragrant. Multi-colored varieties and horned violets with delicate stripes are very trendy.

Dramatic accents can be achieved, for example, with the black-violet variety ‘Blackjack’, the dark-violet ‘Admiration’ or bright yellow varieties. The persistently blooming varieties of the winter violet series ‘Ice Babies’, which are available in stores in many great color combinations, are particularly robust.

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